Three scientists who unravelled some of the deep mysteries of black holes, the awe-inspiring pockets of the universe where space and time cease to exist, have won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, reported Reuters.
Britain’s Roger Penrose, professor at the University of Oxford, won half the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.1 million) for his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
German Reinhard Genzel, of the Max Planck Institute and University of California, Berkeley, and Andrea Ghez, at the University of California, Los Angeles, shared the other half for discovering that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy.
Ghez – only the fourth woman to be awarded the Physics prize after Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018 – said she hoped it would inspire others to enter the field.
Scientists have wondered since the 18th century whether any object existed in the universe that would exert a gravitational pull so strong that light may not be able to escape.
The Nobel prizes were created in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.
This year’s awards are taking place under the long shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic that has curtailed much of the usual festivities surrounding the prizes.